By Cliff Rold
There are plenty of fight fans looking forward to August 15th.
There are less of them in the US market than elsewhere. American fight fans, fairly enough, have their eye on an excellent Jr. welterweight unification match, a big middleweight showdown in September, and the carnie bit in between.
If summer distractions can allow for another hour worth of attention, next week could provide one of the sleeper hits of the season.
All the elements are there for a memorable battle of southpaws.
In one corner, 34-year old WBC bantamweight titlist Shinsuke Yamanaka (27-0-2, 19 KO) will be attempting his thirteenth successful defense. It’s been a hell of a reign, featuring wins over quality former champions like Vic Darchinyan, Anselmo Moreno, and Liborio Solis among others. Yamanaka has quietly had the sort of career that might get him at least a vote for the Hall of Fame one day.
Is it a career winding down?
At 118 lbs., 34 is getting up there and Yamanaka has shown some wear recently. He was down in consecutive fights to Solis and Moreno; in his favor, he had both those men down in return. Yamanaka is four away from tying the overall consecutive defense record in the division held by Orlando Canizales. He’d have to hold his strap five more times to set the record at seventeen.
Defense number 13 could be a doozy.
Mexico’s Luis Nery (23-0, 17 KO) is 22 years old and looks like he might be the goods. Showing steady improvement in recent years, the younger man has scored four stoppages in a row. Two of those wins came against experienced veterans in Richie Mepranum and the late David Sanchez.
Nery is the sort of fighter its fun to watch develop. He’s offensive minded but controlled, slippery on the inside and calm under fire. As much as his early power has impressed, the slowly developing defensive skill set is what really stands out.
This might be a young man with a high ceiling.
Until we see him against the best, it’s hard to say where he stands. Nery isn’t making a simple step up here. Yamanaka represents a leap in class. Is Nery ready? The champion is a finisher with nine knockouts in title fights. Can he take the power of Yamanaka?
We won’t know until we see it, any more than we’ll know if Nery’s potential is what it looks like it could be. Nery will travel to Japan looking to knock off one of the most dominant divisional leaders in the sport. It’s fine drama; a classic battle lions of different generations.
Sometimes the old lions maintain their spot. Nery has a serious chance to claw past his elder.
So how will fans in the US catch the fight?
It may not be easy to find it live. BeIn Espanol, for those with the service, will have a look at least by August 19th on delay. There is a broadcast scheduled for the 15th in the evening as well. Currently, their website says that will be a replay of 2016’s Orlando Salido-Francisco Vargas. Check local listings as that could always change. You Tube will also likely be an option.
Regardless, this is probably going to be worth seeking out. Yamanaka has delivered consistently for several years. He’s not showing up to lose this time.
Neither is Nery.
If the ingredients come together, we’ve got a fine dish next Tuesday.
Big fan of the Dark Tower books but that movie will get a cable look. Those reviews are too bad to get a trip out…Nathan Cleverly-Badou Jack could be a fun scrap…Keep an eye out for a “Measured Against All Time” look at Wladimir Klitschko in the coming days…Claressa Shields is going to have a tougher time finding an opponent anyone thinks can compete at her weight than she is actually winning in the ring…Vasyl Lomachenko didn’t pull big numbers on ESPN. Lot of factors on that but could we also consider that maybe certain weight classes just have a tougher time getting mainstream looks? How many Jr. lightweights have captured the masses over the years in a big way? The answer is a lot less than lightweight proper and welterweight on up. Just food for thought.
Cliff Rold is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene, a founding member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board, and a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at [email protected]